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Dennis C. Blair and Joseph F. Dunford Jr. Write: guest essay.

Apocalyptic scenes have appeared all over the world in recent years: hillsides engulfed in flames, animals turning black, city skies orange by the haze from the mountains. distant fire.

A new United Nations report has declared this a “global bushfire crisis”. And, as I reported this weekThe organization says many societies are thinking about the problem the wrong way.

Government spending is leaning towards fighting fires rather than improving forest management or understanding which fires may be beyond our control, the report said. “Public opinion in many places is in favor of putting out fires at all costs.”

Can quote: The report released by the United Nations Environment Program on Wednesday said: “Planetary warming is turning landscapes into trash cans.

Numbers: The report estimates that even in a moderate scenario for global warming, the likelihood of severe, catastrophic fires could increase by as much as a third by 2050 and up to 52% by 2020. 2100, the report estimates.

Californians can be forgiven for thinking months ago that the state’s drought might finally be over. The wet fall causes the reservoir water levels to be higher than usual, and the Sierra Nevada has a thick layer of snow and ice.

But six weeks makes a difference. A dry January, followed by many similar months in the first half of this month, has greatly changed the outlook. Another year of drought seems possible, although conditions may not be as severe as last year, according to forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The outlook for drought relief is also poor elsewhere in the West.

Equal I wrote in an article last week, forecasters say that La Niña, a cooling of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific that affects jet streams and can affect weather around the world, is likely to keep much of the region The area is warm and dry throughout May. Only the part of the Pacific Northwest, where La Niña typically brings wetter conditions, is expected to see much improvement.

Numbers: According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 99.6 percent of California is in some degree dry state. But the proportion of droughts rated as “extreme” or “extreme” has plummeted since last summer, to more than 1 percent from nearly 90 percent.

Here’s a startling fact: Peatlands, soggy-like soils, make up only 3% of Earth’s land area, yet they store twice as much planet-warming carbon as all other regions. the world’s forests combined.

The bad news is that people often consider peatlands to be a nuisance. They are too soft to build a house, too wet for agricultural crops, and they make a great breeding ground for mosquitoes. In some climates, that carries a high risk of malaria. As a result, about 15% of the world’s peatland has been depleted.

That’s a problem because damaged peatlands, instead of storing carbon, can become major emitters of greenhouse gases. Its all explained in this post by Sabrina Imbler, a colleague reporting at The Times.

So how do we protect the unsung heroes of carbon capture? To answer that question, Ruth Maclean, our West Africa office head, traveled to the Congo Basin, home to a massive tropical peat bog larger than England. The peat there is relatively intact with so little infrastructure, but threats are present. To read her article and see Nanna Heitmann’s stunning photographs, please follow this link.

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